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The NATCOL Working Group on Colouring Foodstuffs convened in 2004 coordinates the NATCOL position with regard to colouring foodstuffs (WGCF) and their use in the colouring of foods. It represents the needs of the NATCOL members with interests in colouring foodstuffs. A position paper, clarifying NATCOL’s position on ‘colouring foodstuffs’ and making clear how such products are defined / manufactured / used and labelled within the food industry, was prepared back in 2007 and further clarification on how NATCOL differentiates between Colour Additives and Colouring Foodstuffs is set out in the NATCOL Colouring Foodstuffs Decision Tree. The criteria by which NATCOL determines if selective extraction has taken place is set out in the NATCOL Selective Extraction Criteria.

NATCOL (WGCF) in conjunction with FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) and ELC presented the Industry position on Colouring Foodstuffs at a Commission WP on Colouring Foodstuffs December 2007, on the request of the Commission DGSANCO in their review of the classification of food extracts in the colouration of food without actually being labelled as food colours. End November 2013, some 7 years after the Commission first addressed the classification of Food Extracts with colouring properties; the Commission Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) endorsed the ‘Guidance Notes on the classification of food extracts with colouring properties’.

The most significant difference between the NATCOL position and that taken by the Commission position was in the interpretation of the legislative description of colours: Preparations obtained from foods and other edible natural source materials obtained by physical and/or chemical extraction resulting in a selective extraction of the pigments relative to the nutritive or aromatic constituents are colours within the meaning of this Regulation” and in particular the interpretation of the word OR. While the Industry legal interpretation of the contextual meaning of ‘OR’ was that it was meant to signify ‘EITHER / OR’ but not ‘BOTH’, the Commission legal interpretation of the contextual meaning of ‘OR’ was that it signified ‘AND’ resulting in the requirement for both nutritive and aromatic characteristics to be taken into account in the ‘Enrichment Factor Analysis’……

Additionally, there are three very important points of clarification in the preamble to the Guidance Notes:

‘It is recommended that operators start following the principles developed in the present Guidance notes and start adapting their products accordingly from 1 January 2014’

‘Moreover it is recommended that all food products placed on the market after 28 November 2015 be in line with the Guidance notes’

‘This document does not deal with labelling of colouring foods or labelling of foods containing colouring foods as an ingredient’

The Guidance endorsed in end November 2013, tasked the Joint Research Centre (JRC) with populating the Annex III of the Guidance and this process was only finally kick-started in mid-September 2014 almost one year into the 2 year step down period. NATCOL fully collaborates with the JRC and DGSANTE in this process.

Chairperson – Andreas Klingenberg

See below for PDF of the EU Guidance notes on the classification of food extracts with colouring properties; PDF of the NATCOL position paper; the NATCOL Colouring Foodstuffs Decision Tree and the NATCOL Selective Extraction Criteria.

Decision Tree

Updated NATCOL Position Paper on Natural Colours Final (2015)

Selective Extractions

Guidance Note Colouring Food_28_10_2013